When I posted a Lata Mangeshkar tribute to mark the passing of the singer, I had thought I’d just focus on ten songs with ten different composers; but that, as it turned out, wasn’t enough. There were too many composers, too many good songs, that fell by the wayside in compiling that first post. So I ended up compiling a second, follow-up post, with ten other composers. In the process, I wound up with more songs, more composers than could fit in that second post.
Here, then, is a third list of solos sung by Lata Mangeshkar: ten songs, ten different composers. Of course, none of these composers feature in my two earlier lists. Also, these songs do not overlap with the ones on my very first ‘Lata in Ten Moods’ song list. As always, these songs are all from pre-1970s Hindi films that I’ve watched.
In no particular order:
1. Haai re woh din kyon na aaye (Anuradha, 1960): With Ravi Shankar. Pandit Ravi Shankar, of course, needs no introduction: arguably the most famous face (outside India, at any rate) of North Indian classical music and arguably the world’s best-known sitar player also composed music for many films, both Indian (including Neecha Nagar, Pather Panchali, Aparajito, Apur Sansar, and Kabuliwala) as well as foreign. Anuradha was one of the films for which Ravi Shankar composed the music, and the beautiful classical tunes he created for it were brought to life by Lata, as the voice of the eponymous protagonist (Leela Naidu). Here, dejected and lonely, utterly neglected by a husband who doesn’t even realize his mistake, Anuradha, who had given up her career as a singer for this man, sings of the days gone by. Longs for them, aches for the joy which was once hers. Lata isn’t just melodious and sweet, she also manages to portray the anguish and misery of the singer very effectively.
2. Chori-chori tori aayi hai Radha (Hum Hindustani, 1960): With Usha Khanna. The most famous (and the most prolific) of female composers in Hindi cinema, Usha Khanna launched her career with Nasir Husain’s Dil Deke Dekho in 1959, and continued to compose music till well into this century as well. From the 1960s, Hum Hindustani is a film that stands out for Usha Khanna’s music: with the title song of that film, Usha Khanna certainly left a mark in the world of patriotic Hindi film songs.
Besides Chhodo kal ki baatein, the film had several other good songs, of which Chori-chori tori aayi hai Radha is a favourite of mine. The instrumentation recalls, to me, the sort of music typically used in Manipuri raas leela dance performances, and Lata’s gentle, soft rendition of this song is very much in keeping with the delicate beauty of the original dance (I must admit, however, that the rather energetic dancing, along with the shabby and inauthentic costumes of this picturization always makes me cringe).
3. Woh toh chale gaye ae dil (Sangdil, 1952): With Sajjad Hussain. Abrasive and uncompromising, Sajjad Husain lost out on many opportunities because of his attitude—which is a shame, because he was a hugely talented composer, as can be seen from the scores of films like Sangdil and Rustom Sohrab. Woh toh chale gaye ae dil is a song of pain and betrayal: a heartbroken Kamal (Madhubala), now that her lover Shankar has left her and gone away, perhaps never to return, tries to tell her heart to reconcile itself to its loneliness.
OP Nayyar had supposedly said that he didn’t want Lata to sing for him because her voice was too thin; I do admit that I find Asha Bhonsle’s or Geeta Dutt’s somewhat more alto voices more appealing. But among the many songs where I think Lata is superb, this is one—and her voice doesn’t sound too ‘thin’ or shrill, either. Plus, there’s not a wrong note, anywhere. Beautifully sung.
4. Preet kiye dukh hoye (Garam Coat, 1955): With Pandit Amarnath Chawla. While the better-known Pandit Amarnath, eldest brother of Husn Lal Bhagatram, was a renowned classical vocalist and composed music for several films, his namesake, Pandit Amarnath Chawla, composed music only for Garam Coat. The sombre (often downright depressing) tone of the film did not allow for too many songs (and what songs there were, came in the way of the narration, as far as I was concerned). Of the few songs in the film, this lovely Meera bhajan is worth listening to: Lata’s voice is so soft, so sad, full of the repressed emotion and the despair that the protagonist (Nirupa Roy) is going through.
(Many thanks to blog readers Anupji and Partha Chanda, who corrected my misidentification of Pandit Amarnath. Thank you!)
5. Abhi toh main jawaan hoon (Afsana, 1951): With Husn Lal Bhagatram. The younger brothers of Pandit Amarnath, Husn Lal and Bhagatram were the first major composer duos in Hindi cinema, the forerunners of later pairs like Shankar-Jaikishan, Kalyanji-Anandji, and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. In their many years of composing, Husn Lal Bhagatram scored the music of films such as Pyaar ki Jeet, Shama Parwana, Adl-e-Jahangir, and Afsana. From the last-named comes this song, which was for many years a signature song on Radio Ceylon: it used to be played before a programme known as Hamesha Jawaan Geet. (Of course, you can see why the song , expressing that sentiment of being still youthful, would fit right into that programme of immortal songs).
Kuldeep Kaur’s and Pran’s characters dance to this song as it plays on a radio: a song of celebrating youth, of living it up.
6. Hum thhe jinke sahaare (Safar, 1970): With Kalyanji-Anandji. One of Hindi cinema’s biggest composer duos, brothers Kalyanji Veerji Shah and Anandji Veerji Shah had a long and very fruitful career in Hindi cinema, composing for hundreds of films all the way from the 50s into the 90s. Lata Mangeshkar sang many songs for them, including some famous solos: the languorous, seductive Yeh samaa samaa hai yeh pyaar ka; the loving Humne tujhko pyaar kiya hai kitna… and this lovely, lovely song. I love the music of Safar, and this song, with lyrics by Indeevar, is a special favourite of mine. The words are so touching, and Lata infuses them with just the right touch of pain: not too little, not too much to be melodramatic.
7. Jab raat nahin katti (Changez Khan, 1957): With Hansraj Behl. Hansraj Behl should really be better-known: he composed for many Hindi and Punjabi films; he was the one who gave Asha Bhonsle her debut song in Hindi cinema (Saawan aaya, in Chunariya). Most importantly, he was a very talented composer, as is obvious from the scores of films like Changez Khan, Milan, Miss Bombay and Sikandar-e-Azam.
Changez Khan was most famous for the very popular Mohabbat zinda rehti hai, but also in this film was this beautiful song by Lata Mangeshkar. The music is very restrained and subdued, allowing Lata’s voice to shine forth in all it sweetness.
8. Koi ghar aayega pyaar jagaayega (Saranga, 1961): With Sardar Malik. It’s a shame that while Anu Malik is so popular, his very talented father is now mostly forgotten. Sardar Malik, who composed the music of films like Chor Bazaar, Thokar, Aulad, and Aab-e-Hayat, was a multi-faceted talent, having trained in dance at Uday Shankar’s academy. Skilled at Kathakali, Bharatnatyam and Manipuri, Sardar Malik had first entered cinema with a view to becoming a choreographer, but ended up a singer and a composer.
Arguably Sardar Malik’s biggest success was his music for Saaranga. While the sublime Saaranga teri yaad mein (sung by Mukesh) is my favourite song from the film, I also like this song, sung by Lata along with a chorus. It’s a frothy, light-hearted song, pleasant and melodious.
9. Aaja piya tohe pyaar doon (Bahaaron ke Sapne, 1967): With RD Burman. Think RD Burman and a female singer, and it’s inevitable to think Asha Bhonsle. Asha, after all, was Pancham’s muse; he created some of his best songs for her, and she was his female voice from the 60s till well beyond. But it wasn’t as if Pancham didn’t do any songs with Lata; Lata, in fact, sang some pretty popular songs for RD Burman, from Baahon mein chale aao, to Tere bina jiya jaaye na, Is mod se jaate hain, and Aajkal paaon zameen par.
… and, in one of Rajesh Khanna’s first films, Lata sang this gentle, sweet song of comfort: Aaja piya tohe pyaar doon is a woman’s way of telling the man she loves that she will stand by him in his despair. Her love is his; all his woes, his anguish, he should share with her, because that too is hers. One of my favourite female solos.
10. Prabhu tero naam jo dhyaaye (Hum Dono, 1961): With Jaidev. Jaidev was sadly eclipsed through a good bit of his career by being assistant to SD Burman, though you only have to listen to the songs he composed on his own for films like Hum Dono, Reshma aur Shera and Gharonda, to appreciate how very good Jaidev was. Hum Dono, of course, remains possibly his best score, with one great (and hugely popular) song after another: Abhi na jaao chhodkar, Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya, Kabhi khud pe kabhi haalaat pe, and Allah tero naam, indisputably one of Hindi cinema’s greatest bhajans. Besides Allah tero naam, Hum Dono had another bhajan: this relatively ‘conventional’ one, where Nanda’s character confides her woes and her frustration to her God. On its own, this is a nice song, its tune and rendition both good; it’s only in comparison to Allah tero naam that Prabhu tero naam pales, somewhat.
I still have some composers left, some more great songs that Lata sang. But that will be covered in the fourth, and last, post of this series.